Lolly Willowes, or The Loving Huntsman, the first Book-of-the-Month Club selection, is published by Viking Press.
The book was written by English novelist Sylvia Townsend Warner, who had intended to become a musicologist, not a writer. To that end, she edited a 10-volume work called Tudor Church Music. Warner claimed she became a poet and fiction writer accidentally when she ran across a piece of paper with “a particularly tempting surface.” She was intensely interested in established religions and the occult and used her knowledge of witchcraft in Lolly Willowes, a story about a widow who scandalizes her relations by moving to a town involved in witchcraft.
The Book-of-the-Month Club’s 4,000-plus members were not pleased with the novel. However, Warner was used to being controversial. As an openly gay woman in the early 1900s, she was the object of much hostility throughout her life. Warner later published 144 short stories in the New Yorker, as well as more novels, poetry and translations. She died in 1978 in Dorset, England.